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Is dark magenta red?

Is dark magenta red?

When looking at colors, it can sometimes be difficult to determine if a shade falls into one color category or another. Dark magenta in particular straddles the line between red and purple. By examining the technical definition of dark magenta and comparing it to red and purple, we can get a better understanding of where exactly dark magenta falls on the color spectrum.

Defining Dark Magenta

In the RGB (red, green, blue) color model, which is used for colors displayed on screens, dark magenta is created by mixing high amounts of red and blue light, with no green. The specific RGB values for dark magenta are R: 139, G: 0, B: 139. The lack of green is what gives it the purple tint.

In print and paint mixing using the CMYK (cyan, magenta, yellow, black) model, dark magenta is created by mixing high amounts of magenta and black pigments, with little or no cyan and yellow. The percentages for dark magenta ink are approximately C: 20%, M: 100%, Y: 0%, K: 60%.

On the standard color wheel, magenta sits between red and purple. Dark magenta is a deeper, muted shade of standard magenta. It falls in the range of hues between 300 to 320 degrees on the color wheel.

Comparison to Red

When examining the technical specifications, dark magenta contains a significant amount of red due to the high amounts of the red channel in the RGB model and magenta ink in the CMYK model. However, the addition of high amounts of blue and black pigments mute the brightness of the red and bring it closer to a purple tone.

In side by side comparisons, dark magenta looks more similar to shades of purple than true red. It lacks the warm, fiery color of bright reds. Dark magenta has a cooler, more muted appearance caused by the added blue tones.

Color Technical Specifications Appearance
Red RGB: 255, 0, 0
CMYK: 0%, 100%, 100%, 0%
Bright, warm, clear
Dark Magenta RGB: 139, 0, 139
CMYK: 20%, 100%, 0%, 60%
Dark, muted, cool

While dark magenta contains red elements, the visual comparison shows it is actually closer to purple than true red.

Relationship to Purple

Comparing dark magenta to shades of purple helps illustrate its closer connection to violet colors rather than red. Like all purples, dark magenta is created by combining the primary colors red and blue. This mix of a warm and cool tone results in the vibrant, regal shade that characterizes purple hues.

Dark magenta sits between the reddish purples and the blueish purples on the color wheel. This places it firmly in the purple family. It has a similar muted, cool appearance as other dark purples. When directly compared to shades like dark violet, the resemblance is clear.

Color Technical Specifications Appearance
Dark Magenta RGB: 139, 0, 139
CMYK: 20%, 100%, 0%, 60%
Dark, muted, purple/red tone
Dark Violet RGB: 148, 0, 211
CMYK: 80%, 100%, 0%, 0%
Dark, muted, purple/blue tone

While not identical, dark magenta and dark violet have a very similar appearance and energy. This is an indicator that dark magenta belongs to the purple family.

Technical Classification

Color science classes dark magenta primarily as a shade of purple rather than red. It fits the technical qualifications for a purple hue, with its combination of high amounts of red and blue wavelengths of light. The addition of black and minimal green and yellow pigment give it the rich, dark tones of a purple as well.

On the color wheel, dark magenta sits at 317 degrees, firmly in the purples section between red-violet and blue-violet. This technical classification reinforces the visual comparisons that show dark magenta as closer to purple than true red.

Cultural Associations

The cultural associations and symbolic meanings of dark magenta also connect it more closely with purple than red.

Like other shades of purple, dark magenta is associated with royalty, luxury, spirituality, and creativity. It has an air of mystery and imagination. Red is more associated with passion, excitement, aggression, and urgency.

Dark shades of magenta and purple are also connected to counterculture and unconventionality, such as the purple hair of punk rockers. Although red can also have rebellious connotations, dark magenta is more closely tied to unique self-expression.


When examining the technical qualities of the color dark magenta and comparing it visually and culturally to shades of red and purple, it becomes clear that it belongs in the purple family. While it contains some red tones, the addition of blue wavelengths and minimal green/yellow pigments morph the color into a cooler, darker, more muted purple rather than a warm, bright red.

Dark magenta sits comfortably between the red and blue-purple shades on the color wheel. Its similarity to colors like dark violet also demonstrate its purple characteristics. The color has cultural associations with luxury, creativity, and uniqueness that are connected to purple hues as well.

So while dark magenta is not a pure shade of purple, it contains enough blue tones and lacks enough warmth and brightness to be considered more purple than red. The technical specifications, visual appearance, and cultural meanings all point to dark magenta being classified as a shade of purple.